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April 13, 2011

Lennon Was Wrong, You Also Need Massive Government Spending

We’ll get to President Obama’s latest budget-deficit-fighting proposal in the next day or two, but we would be remiss if we did not address a novel approach presented yesterday by New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman.  His solution to our debt crisis?


Okay, that sounds a little silly and of course he isn’t serious that love alone can help address our national budget woes. No, something much more concrete than that is needed:


That might be a little unfair out of context.  Mr. Bittman’s focus is on the money spent treating “lifestyle diseases” such as diabetes and heart disease, which he believes can be prevented or reversed with:

“A sane diet, along with exercise, meditation and intangibles like love.”

Fine, so maybe Mr. Bittman went a little heavy on the LSD in the ’60s, just be grateful that “flower power” isn't a part of his fiscal manifesto.

Of course, lifestyle diseases are presumably caused by the style in which you have decided to conduct your life, and we just can’t allow that to continue.  How do we address this epidemic of individual choice? Mr. Bittman admits he doesn’t have an easy answer.  Answers that require taking more of your money?  Those he’s got a lot of:

“…it for sure will take an investment: it’s a situation in which you must spend money to make or save money. (Yes, taxes will go up, but whose taxes?) Some number of billions of dollars — something in the rounding error area — should be spent on research to figure out exactly how to turn this ship around.”

“Some other billions of dollars must go to public health.”

“Only a massive public health effort can save both our health and our budget.”

“…adequately funding school lunch programs.”

Love may be free, but the rest is going to cost you.

Mr. Bittman believes that if you ate fewer cheeseburgers, exercised more, began chanting, and started watching the Lifetime Channel, we could bring down overall health care costs and the government’s contribution to those costs, by preventing “millions of premature deaths.”

And as we all know, the only goal in life is to maximize your lifespan.  If that takes being coerced into adopting a lifestyle you don’t want, well, too bad.  As Mr. Bittman puts it:

“This isn’t just fiscal responsibility, but social responsibility as well.”

So put down your Gadsden flag, take off the tri-cornered hat, get with the collective, and maybe you’ll get to live a very long life, or at least one that seems that way.

Of course, that will only worsen the problem with our unfunded public pension liabilities and Social Security deficits, but hey, what do you want, he's just a food critic.  It's not like he's some expert on public finance. Like a Hollywood actor.


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April 13, 2011 at 05:27 PM in Health & Fitness | Permalink


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Yeah, Bittman, our lifestyle choices are sooo bad that we're kicking the bucket sooner than ever. That's why the average life expectancy for Americans was just revised UPWARDS.

What a moron. And does anyone else see the comedy in having a man named Bittman being a food critic?

Your line about worsening our pension and SS liabilities reminded me of something I read/heard some time ago (this is somewhat off topic - but it's about unintended consequences that should have been foreseen). The insurance companies have been a driving (heh) force behind car safety for some time. Initially it was because they didn't like paying out life insurance policies for people who died in car accidents. So they lobbied for "safer" cars. They did it by having Congress pass laws forcing the car companies to have seat belts, air bags*, etc., rather than work with the car companies for safety and offering lower rates for safer cars. Now, it turns out that between our better trauma treatments, and cars that keep people alive when they used to die, insurance companies are paying more in medical benefits than they ever did in death benefits. Talk about ironic.

* Air bags, when offered as an option by Cadillac in 1973, were universally ignored. During the Carter administration, Joan Claybrook (a high ranking member of Carter's Dept. of Transportation) testified before Congress that air bags would save 40,000 lives per year. Last I saw, they've been estimated to have saved, since they became mandatory in 1985, less than 3,000 total, and have killed over 100 (hey, a safety device that kills people; what a wonderful idea!). And they've shattered hundreds of thousands of right arms in accidents that, had there been no airbag, there would have been no injury. How? You're waiting to turn left, you've got your wheel turned, with your right arm across the steering wheel in the 10 o'clock position. You get rear ended, which pushes you into oncoming traffic. The resulting head on impact fires the airbag, which shatters your right arm. I've read of one person who was undergoing his 9th reconstructive surgery after this scenario resulted in his right arm slamming into his face so hard from the airbag firing it shattered his face.

The law of unintended consequences is a bitch!

Posted by: MPH | Apr 14, 2011 8:45:53 AM

Are you suggesting that central planners are incapable of adequately capturing every dynamic of human interaction? Why, they're experts!

Posted by: Planet Moron | Apr 14, 2011 9:50:26 AM

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